The week before last, I finally had a week on the canals. We decided to go a different route as Chester has got a bit monotonous! Anyway, we chugged out of Swanley marina, down Hurlston locks and away towards Market Drayton.
Day one started very dismally. There was low lying cloud, rain thundering on the roof and it was cold. I must admit, after having a week on the boat like this once before I really wasn't looking forward to it, but come 11.30am the rain stopped and we chugged our way to Audlem and whoa!! The sun shone it had warmed up and then it stayed that way ALL WEEK I mean it was the last week of October going into the first week of November!!
We then had lots of locks to go through to take us up the 90ft climb to Market Drayton. Sharon, not being as fit as she once was, helped teach Linda to steer so that she wouldn't have to do all the locks herself and took the boat into the locks as much as she could. During those locks, we met some really nice people. Sadly I didn't take their names (naughty me) but there was one guy in particular who was a great help, making locks ready for us after he had moored. The only clue I have to his identitly was he had a dog called Meg (an English sheep dog cross, rescued) and his wife was called Margaret. I did meet one American lady who asked me if I realised the principles of locking because we dared to stop for breakfast and she thought we were going to waste a lock full of water. Less said about her the better, except, I hope she had a nice journey home!!!
We got to Market Drayton by day 3, but because the Challenger boat owner had taken all the space we then had to go up 5 locks to turn then back down them again!! Oh well, such is life. Another nice gent at the top of those locks helped me turn Summer Breeze.
On the subject of Summer Breeze. She is showing her age a bit now. Every day, not only did we have to grease the prop (essential) ,but also had to fill her engine with at least a litre and a half of water and keep the revs low, hence, we were always being passed by other boats. One in particular, too fast. He dragged our front end towards him, while we wobbled about on the waves he had made. Luckily I know where reverse is so there wasn't a collision!!!
Course, after climbing 27 locks, we had to go back down them again and Linda worked like a Trojan. She has my lock wheeler of the century award!!!
Well done Linda!!!
Anyway, on Halloween, we made it back to Audlem and decided to stay the night. The local pub, The Shroppie Fly had a halloween night for the local kids in the pub, so the evening cost us a fortune (treating) and we did have some banging on the boat after dark. Ooooh, it was really scarey. We also met Jan and Simon on a Challenger boat at Audlem and helped clear up their flooded loo. Nice couple, maybe we will see them again sometime!
All in all we had a nice break. Sharons pump didn't charge very well, but that was put right by the lovely Christine who runs the craft shop next to the Shroppie Fly. I am now looking for crew, so if anyone would like to share narrowboat holiday?...............................................